DOH approves Aloha Green as 1st Oahu dispensary to sell medical cannabis

Published: Aug. 8, 2017 at 1:40 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 11, 2017 at 8:25 AM HST
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KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Aloha Green has become the first dispensary on Oahu and the second in the state to begin sales of medical cannabis.

The state Department of Health on Wednesday gave the dispensary -- located at 1314 South King Street -- a formal notice after it completed lab testing requirements and passed a final onsite inspection.

"The opening of a licensed dispensary on Oahu is a major milestone for the more than 5,000 qualified patients and caregivers in Honolulu," said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler, in a statement.

On Tuesday, the DOH gave Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies the "green light" to begin selling medical marijuana to registered patients and their caregivers, making it the first dispensary in the state to begin sales.

"We are so thrilled. We feel we've been waiting such a long time for this day to be here and our staff, our patients, every body is over the moon with happiness today," said Teri Freitas Gorman, Director of Community Relations & Patient Affairs.

"This is an important day for qualified patients and caregivers on Maui who now have assurance the medical cannabis they purchase at Maui Grown Therapies has been thoroughly tested and is safe for them to use," Pressler said. "Implementing a new health program is always challenging, and the dispensary program was no exception.

Maui patient, Frank Rickert, was first in line to buy medical cannabis and said he's using it for chronic back pain.

"Now that the dispensary is open, we can go find those things and the quality of life will be much better," said Rickert.

The licensed retail center Maui Grown Therapies, located at 44 Paa Street in Kahului, will begin selling dried medical cannabis flowers when it opens to registered patients, DOH said.

The dispensary can only sell its dried flower buds and not manufactured products like oils. The state says Hawaii's only certification lab still has to turn in documentation to certify manufactured products.

The lab, Steep Hill Hawaii, hopes to have that ready in a couple weeks. The company just received an ISO designation which is the highest designation by industry standards. The lab is located on Oahu and its using a private shipping company to transport the cannabis samples from Maui to its Oahu lab for testing.

"In the state of Hawaii, it's legal for us to handle and transport the dispensary product," said Steep Hill Hawaii COO Mike Covington.

While the federal government still considers marijuana an illegal drug, people in the dispensary industry say they've had many behind the scene meetings with federal agencies and have essentially been told that the feds won't go after them.

There are eight licensed dispensaries in Hawaii: three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island, one on Kauai and two on Maui.

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